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ASX Investigating with ISYS

The Australian Stock Exchange (ASX) has many responsibilities in running an orderly and efficient stock market. One area in which it is particularly vigilant is in ensuring that all participants; brokers, clients and companies comply with the requirements of the ASX and the official body that empowers it, the Australian Securities & Investments Commission (ASIC).

The Surveillance Department of the ASX is responsible for ensuring that the rules of the ASX and Corporations Law, which is a piece of legislation concerning companies and financial markets, is adhered to. Therefore, close monitoring of the market and stockbrokers is required. The staff in the Surveillance Department are particularly interested in significant and unexplained movements in stock prices and volumes. If such a movement is noted, it is the responsibility of the Surveillance group to commence preliminary enquiries. Members of the Surveillance team will review publicly available information that may have caused this movement first, and if no legitimate reason can be found there, they then begin an investigation into the cause using other sources of information unavailable to the public.

Surveillance uses ISYS:desktop to assist in these investigations. ISYS:desktop allows the Surveillance team to search through large volumes of data quickly and easily to find exactly what they need. With full text search facility and hit highlighting complete with hit-to-hit navigation, ISYS gives instant accurate results as well as facilitating discovery of associations or links between seemingly unrelated information.

With records going back as far as 1989, the ASX has approximately 16.9 GB of data to be searched via the LAN. Most of this material is Word and Excel documents with the occasional HTML file from a market information vendor. When an incident comes to their attention, investigators are able to perform quick and accurate searches to check if there is any prior Surveillance documentation relating to the company, the relevant brokers or their clients and look for any previous enquiries made concerning any such party. If a possible breach of the ASX rules or the Corporations Law has occurred, any prior investigations may be relevant to the current matter.

Another useful feature of this system is that staff can search for cases with similar circumstances to the one currently being reviewed. This ensures consistency in the way cases are handled as well as providing a way of sharing knowledge. The discovery process in a similar case may well help in the pursuit of the current one. What was discovered, or the modus operandi, may provide possible avenues of investigation for a current case.

The greatest advantage of all of this is how fast this can happen. At the press of a button, staff can have this information at their fingertips. Traditionally one would have to search through copious files of notes in countless filing cabinets. Finding a name may be difficul, but finding a similar case to yours could be near impossible unless you were to read every single file. "ISYS lets us search our data effectively and quickly," said Richard Flynn, Senior Analyst. "It also provides us with an accurate historical database of previous investigations. We are far more effective as a result."


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